First Ward Balls

Although they became infamous, the First Ward Balls lasted for only ten years, from 1898 to 1908. Dubbed by the Illinois Crime Survey as an "annual underworld orgy,"1 They were alcohol fueled political parties led by Bathhouse John Coughlin and Michael Hinky Dink Kenna, which would quickly degrade into sexual orgies and chaos.2

At their height, Kenna and Coughlin were each making up to $50,000 off the parties.
The 1908 Ball began with a poem from Coughlin:

On with the dance
Let the Orgy be perfectly proper
Don't Drink, Smoke or spit on the floor
And say keep your eye on the copper.3

Arthur Burrage Farwell tried to stop them, but failed. He then began a movement to get clergymen to bring the subject up in their sermons in an attempt to shame businessmen into boycotting the balls. This proved successful, as enough of the regulars stayed away to cut the revenue from the parties, forcing them to end.4

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